The ballet world I don't think is an art form that is quick to change or to adjust or evolve.
'The Firebird' just symbolizes a lot for me and my career. It was one of the first really big principal roles that I was ever given an opportunity to dance with American Ballet Theatre, and it was a huge step for the African-American community, I think, within the classical ballet world.
A young girl reached out to me to be her mentor one day, which I didn't really know anything about. What I did remember was what it was to be alone as an African-American dancer in the ballet world and wanting to connect with someone who looks like me.
I think I get almost every piece of clothing that I buy altered and taken in just to fit me exactly the way it should.
Being one of the few African American women to make it to this level in a classical ballet company, the level of American Ballet Theatre, takes a lot of perseverance.
I say over and over again that I am just standing on the shoulders of so many who have set this path for me, and they may not be seen or recognized or have been given an opportunity to have a voice, but I'm here representing all of those dancers. Dance Theatre of Harlem Virginia Johnson, Tai Jimenez, Lauren Anderson.
If I'm put in a situation where I am not really sure what's going to happen, it can be overwhelming. I get a bit anxious.
Be strong, be fearless, be beautiful. And believe that anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you.
Whenever there was chaos in my house, whether it was arguing, being in a cramped space with all of us kids and screaming, I found an empty space where I could just put music on and move.
It's a European art form, and you're used to seeing a certain type of person as a ballerina. And I don't look like a lot of the girls around me.
I wanted to open the dialogue about race in ballet and bring more people in. It's just beautiful to see the interest that has exploded for such an incredible art form that I will forever be grateful to!
I've always approached my career and my life, you know, one day at a time, as if this was the last day that I'm going, because you never know as an athlete and as a dancer. You never know what can happen today, tomorrow.
I think most people think of ballerinas as kind of either as a fairytale, far-away thing that's really not attainable, something they can't grasp, or they think of them as European or Russian and kind of their nose up in the air. So, it's cool for me to, like, sit with them and for them to really see themselves as me.
Growing up, I was surrounded by R&B and Hip-Hop, and the closest thing I could find to dance was gymnastics which I watched on TV. So, I just used those avenues I found available right in my milieu to express what was inside of me.
As a child, I had been told that I was exactly what a ballerina should be.
Perseverance has always just been something that was in me. And it was a tool that came in very handy as a ballerina.
I don't want to be anything else other than a ballerina. I love what I do outside of my work, but at the end of the day, I have to sacrifice.
I think that the ideal physique and look of a ballerina is always changing with different eras. And it's continuing to change.
I don't feel like my life is that of a superstar! Every day I wake up, I take the train, I go to my ballet class. My everyday life is pretty normal.
It's hard to be the one that stands out when, you know, in a ballet company, you're trying to create unison and uniform when you're in a corps de ballet.